Trainer Dean Kannemeyer dishes up the class entertainment for punters on our National Braai Day public holiday on Monday at Durbanville. His high quality stayer Blake looks just a trifle too accomplished for his eight rivals in the Listed Settlers Trophy run over 2400m.
They say that weight stops trains. Even the few that run on the quiet Cape suburban public holidays.
So we probably need to exercise caution and take note that the talented son of Dynasty lumps a hefty impost of 63kgs around the tight country course. He is giving away as much as 11kgs to the bottom-weights. But somehow, when all is considered, he still looks too good.
Blake launches his Cape Summer Season campaign here and this race is probably as good a place to start as any. He would have been obliged to carry the big weight no matter where he commenced his assault.
And when comparing his improvement over the past ten months and considering the opposition, collateral comparisons with the lesser lights means little currently. Putney Flyer, may be the only exception – but we will touch on him later.
The improved Blake is in his prime and has improved in leaps and bounds, winning four of his seven starts since running a gallant third in this event last year behind surprise winner Sun City.
His recent victories include a Gr2, two Gr3 and a Listed win. Over and above that, he ran outstanding places in the Gr3 Schweppes Challenge behind Tribal Dance and an excellent third behind stablemate and Equus 2012 Stayer of the Year, In Writing, in the Gr1 Ladbrokes Gold Cup on Super Saturday.
The only factor that could be the class horse’s undoing is match fitness and it is guaranteed that he has much bigger fish to fry. Like so many of the Kannemeyer runners coming out of their annual housekeeping break, he may need the run.
One that will keep Blake honestand focussed is Darryl Hodgson’s Miesque’s Approval gelding Putney Flyer. He is one of the better unproven young stayers in the Cape and he takes a step up in class here under Chris Puller. He has won twice from his eleven starts and may have found the 1800m of his last start too short when running on steadily for third behind surprise winner Repertoire. He proved at his penultimate start in an MR 87 Handicap that he stays this 2400m really well, and while he beat nothing there, he is carrying only 52kgs on Monday.
Mike Bass sends a coupling to post and it is quite surprising to note that Drakenstein Stud’s Jeppe’s Reef has only won three races in his career. The son of Jallad, while not too far behind in the Schweppes or the Gold Cup, had a rather unproductive stint in the 2012 Champions Season
Jeppes Reef is 2,5kgs better off with Blake on their Gold Cup clash, when beaten 1,6 lengths receiving 6kgs. He also ran from the worst draw on Super Saturday. This gives him a squeak of a chance. But nothing much more than that.
The second of the Bass runners, Another Giant, is quite moderate at best and last won in the weaker league of Fairview. He does enjoy this testing trip and the going on top though, and has run the odd fair race – like his 6.75 length third in the 3000m Gr3 Chairman’s Cup to In Writing in February.
Yogas Govender’s 7yo Fanatic Dane gelding Caymen Island is battling to win another race, but caught the eye quietly when staying on for an excellent fifth in the Gr3 Lonsdale Stirrup Cup. He received a half kilo from Blake and was beaten just half a length. And is better off here receiving 3kgs from the topweight.
But that still may not be enough to reverse things when comparing the overall scope and ability of the two horses in isolation.
Joey Ramsden’s 2011 Gr3 East Cape Derby winner Vengence has been a disappointment and has never won since that day in May. He has his first run back in Cape Town after an unsuccessful Champions Season campaign, and should find this quite tough going – although Ramsden is not a man to be taken lightly at the country course.
Why Worry won the Gr3 Winter Classic last season and is a fair staying sort on his day. Justin Snaith’s Casey Tibbs gelding appears to have Putney Flyer held on their last run, but the extra 600m may be the leveller.
He gets the services of Felix Coetzee, and looks a good place prospect at best.
Paddy Kruyer’s Silvano gelding Gianduja has a terrific finishing burst when ridden properly and he looks to have a big shout for runner-up money with Karis Teetan in the saddle. He won his penultimate start over Monday’s course and distance when sweeping ahead to beat Sun City by 3,50 lengths.
Even though he shed his maiden over 1400m, his last outing over that trip would have served as a pipe-opener when he didn’t show to finish 12 lengths off the very capable Lake Arthur.
This will be more Gianduja’s game and he should strip a fit horse.
The 11yo Grafton Street is a part of the furniture down in Cape racing. While he enjoys the educated caring hands of Andrew Fortune, he would be a shock winner.
Race fitness and the lack of a genuine pacemaker may be Kannemeyer’s only concerns as he looks to get his summer attack rolling. If things go Blake’s way, it is difficult to see him being beaten by any of this lot and he is a confident selection to resume his consistent ways.
He is selected to hold Putney Flyer and Gianduja. Jeppe’s Reef and Why Worry may be best of the rest.